GENERAL DISCUSSIONS

Things I learned in physics class

UPDATED: Friday, August 12, 2005 05:00
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Tuesday, July 19, 2005 7:35 PM

 SIGMANUNKI

 The wife found this : http://physicsmathforums.com/showthread.php?t=56 EDIT: She just told me that it is in the blog of a string theorist. ---- "Canada being mad at you is like Mr. Rogers throwing a brick through your window." -Jon Stewart, The Daily Show

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005 7:57 PM

 SIMONSAYS

 Quote:Originally posted by thatweirdgirl: Quote:Originally posted by SimonSays: God I love thatweirdgirl I bet Physics conflicted with Cheerleading Practice Are you really Cordelia Chase? Or perhaps Harmony? Cheerleader? Maybe band or AP French...It was a while ago. Um, no. Never ever been a cheerleader. Geek. Nerd. Dork. Or perhaps weirdo would better explain it. I have A Brief History of Time on my clie...I read it whenever I'm bored. I admit, I struggled through the third chapter. Bet it gets easier as you go. www.thatweirdgirl.com --- "...turn right at the corner then skip two blocks...no, SKIP, the hopping-like thing kids do...Why? Why not?" AP French , Geek , Nerd , Dork ....thatweirdgirl will you marry me and have my children? Remember what LOUIS VUITTON said: "It's in the bag!"

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005 9:13 PM

 ZOID

 SigmaNunki: I am hesitant to reply to your latest post. Here's my assessment: 1. I never claimed to be a physicist or scientist of any kind. I never claimed to be a mathematician. I have always and ever been very honest about who I am and what 'paths' I have walked during my chameleon-like existence. I have never claimed expertise in physics. Somehow, you have equated my statements, based on books I have read -- written for laypersons like myself by authors like Einstein, Feynman, Hawking and Greene among many others -- as being authoritative indictments of the scientific community. 2. I only intended to present a speculative viewpoint, hoping to get informed opinions from those who work in scientific and other research careers. I also ventured to comment that the differing viewpoints -- many of which have been duly pointed out by each author I have read -- as well as the fantastic basis of QM, reminded me of religion: 'Believing' in something totally unrelated to everyday experience, and which you have very little hope of ever actually observing (i.e, like 'God'), and then settling into 'interpretation groups' regarding the best guess of what is really going on at the most basic level (i.e., like differing sects of the Protestant faith). I said those things and it made you angry. Are you really so easily offended by a confessed layperson? Have I really so grievously sullied the honor of the scientific community that you personally feel the need to lay me low? If so, the scientific community has a much thinner skin than I had credited. Any similarity I might have envisioned between science and religion stopped well short of righteous anger... 3. As stated above, I get the distinct impression that my layman's viewpoints and commentary make you very angry. Does either of us know precisely why? I certainly do not. Based on what you said in your last post, it's because I haven't admitted that you proved me wrong a year ago. I have no emotional investment in being 'right' or in winning a battle of wills. I've always viewed debate as a sport, and I've been known to switch sides in the middle of the match because I felt the other side had valid points that weren't being made (or just to shake people out of their 'comfort zones'). For me, the value of debate is to fully illuminate all the aspects of a topic, not to come to a consensus or declare a winner/loser. But this isn't a sporting debate as far as you're concerned, is it? It's personal, right? So here's the only question(s) I have: Is there some way of overcoming our differences? Or are you planning on carrying this grudge forever? I, for my part, am ashamed that I have failed so miserably with another human being. I am well-known in my career field for being able to forge professional working relationships with people whose personal philosophies are adversarial to my own. (NB: Put two controllers in a room; chances are they are adversarial toward one another. Type 'A' personalities rarely settle comfortably into a pecking order.) I'm not saying we should join each other's fan clubs; but, we should at least be able to share our differing opinions on any topic without resorting to negative behavior of this kind. At least that's my opinion, and I am an expert on being me... Respectfully, zoid P.S. I don't have much hope that this is gonna succeed; but I had to give it one last try. _________________________________________________ "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." -Albert Einstein (NB: Unfortunately, humans are not very good at 'new' thinking.)

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005 12:20 PM

 THATWEIRDGIRL

 Sigma and Zoid, How can two people I so thoroughly enjoy communicating with not enjoy communicating with each other? Eh. I am glad the physicists and mathematicians can explain the bits and theories to us non-physicists, It's nice. Folks like Zoid (and me) get our info from sources we think are legitimate scholarly sources. We don't know which theorists the physics community rolls their collective eyes. We rely on folks like Sigma to point us in the more accepted direction. I don't know what happened or when to sour your relationship. I'm not sure it is salvageable. I want you both to know that I value your opinions...loud and aggressive though you both may be at times. Anyway, I'm still reading and learning from this thread. Keep up the discussion. Respectfully, TiPpY www.thatweirdgirl.com --- "...turn right at the corner then skip two blocks...no, SKIP, the hopping-like thing kids do...Why? Why not?"

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005 12:41 PM

 THATWEIRDGIRL

 Quote:Originally posted by SimonSays: AP French , Geek , Nerd , Dork ....thatweirdgirl will you marry me and have my children? I figured out what class it was! It was Latin. I knew it wasn't anything like Calc since the other kids were able to take it. And then I remembered our valedictorian was in French with me, so it wasn't that either. Latin. I waited to take it my senior year because of all the other stupid classes I just HAD to take kept conflicting with Latin. I gave up physics for Latin. (I was planning a Music major at the time...studying root words seemed more relevant.) I am spoken for. Random info: For some reason my Latin classmates nicknamed Sabine. www.thatweirdgirl.com --- "...turn right at the corner then skip two blocks...no, SKIP, the hopping-like thing kids do...Why? Why not?"

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Thursday, July 21, 2005 5:44 AM

 ZOID

 TiPpY: Thank you for your kind words. I'd have to agree that there's some unnavigable gulf separating SigmaNunki and myself. The problem is that I like physics, similar to how I like baseball and basketball: I never played (not to the level of techniques, tactics and strategy) those games, but I do have a fan's appreciation of the techniques, tactics and strategies. I like to consider and discuss these topics; but everytime SigmaNunki sees my name on a physics thread, he lays into me. And I'm not going to stop posting simply because someone tells me I should be quiet and let the people with brains talk. I'm too stubborn (mea culpa) and, frankly, that kind of intellectual elitism offends my sensibilities. So, everytime a physics thread comes up, we're going to have this gruesome exchange. Very disappointing for everyone involved, especially the other readers who wanted to read something enlightening, not these embarassingly adolescent exchanges... On a more serious note, what's this, "I'm spoken for" nonsense? I was planning on leaving my wife and kids for you, you vixen! But then I remembered what I look like, and realized the probability of success for the plan was on the extreme fringe of the scatter chart, so I snuffed the plan. Still, with Feynman's "sum-over-histories" approach ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Path_integral_formulation ), the electron of my fantasy actually explores all possible paths (including making out with the green chick from the Star Trek TOS pilot) before striking the "zoid loses" phosphor. In this scenario, "It's the thought that counts", since that's what generates the 'fantasy electron'. And in the case of the 'multiverse' ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Many-worlds_interpretation ) my 'fantasy electron' actually creates an infinite number of separate universes, one for each possible outcome, so right now, in another universe, I'm making out with Anne Francis (TV's Kitty West and lone female star of "Forbidden Planet"). Every fantasy of mine's got Anne in it somewhere... Now, perhaps, you can understand why I like physics so much: I'm an incurable hound... Historically, zoid P.S. Anyone: Quantum mechanics + gravity? Pretty please? Or how about one or two of those predicted but experimentally unobserved (as yet) particles? "Inquiring minds want to know". _________________________________________________ "Sure as I know anything, I know this: I aim to misbehave." -Capt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity, a.k.a. 'the BDM'

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Thursday, July 21, 2005 6:19 AM

 FOURSKYS

 Ok, so I thought I'd pop back into this thread after about a week of absence. Anyway... My only real comment on the whole "belief in physics" (mostly becuase I like philosophy, phyiscs, and debating) argument is that they really are two separate things. There is the "Philosophy of Physics" which entails the Many-Worlds theory versus Copenhagen and such, and there the "Mathematics of Physics". The philosophy of physics is primarily the untennable things that are debated and people will adhere to much like a belief system. People will tell you that the Copenhagen interpretation of QM is right or wrong, but there is absolutely no proof either way. Belief? Yes. Like a religion? Um...Sure. But then there is the mathematics. The math is undeniable. Anybody who starts with the same set of assumptions gets the same set of answers. There are no "belief" systems involved. The math just works. The only possible room for aargument here is in those assupmtions. But there really is no "belief" in the scientific community about those assumptions. Everyone agrees that they are just assumptions, and could be proved wrong at any moment. People publish papers with topics like "what happens if asusmption A is wrong?" It's not a matter of believing in the assumptions, its a matter of making the proper assumptions such that our math reproduces the observed results. Belief? No. Acceptance? Yes. Like a religion? Certainly not. An example: Scientists don't "believe" (=like a religion) that the speed of light is constant. It can be observed to be the case, at least in our local universe. But there are camps of scientists who think that it may NOT have been constant over the entire history of the universe. It's an assumption in the math that may or may not be right. It's what is used now because it's commonly accepted. It can change, and it'll cause a stir in the scientific community if it does, but show some proof (or a reasonable argument) and you'll sway people over to your side. Religious tennets just don't have that kind of flexibility... FourSkys P.S. "Quantum Mechanics + gravity? Pretty please?" Good luck with that :-)

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Thursday, July 21, 2005 7:01 AM

 QBEAM

 Quote:Jayne gets hit and goes flying back a few metres. Looking at it from a conservation of momentum point of view, the guy who fired it should have flown back about the same distance to conserve momentum. Basically, when the alliance guy fired the weapon, it should have pushed him back with the same force that hit Jayne. Imagine the sonic gun as being like a cannon. You remember what happens to cannons that arent tied down? hehe... Something like this was on mythbusters a few weeks ago. You're going about this all wrong--you have to assume that what you observe is true, and then deduce why it happens that way. That's the experimental method! So, how could the gun knock Jayne down, but not push the guy holding it backwards? Obviously, there must be some kind of back-blast. Guys who fire Bazookas don't get knocked backwards at all... QBeam

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Thursday, July 21, 2005 7:28 AM

 QBEAM

 Quote:I like your idea about constant 1g acceleration, though I'd have to sit down and do the math (after remembering) to figure out how long it would take you to get to any significant speed. As far as your thought of a brief period of freefall: You could simply have your ship make a wide turn using some sort of RCS - without cutting the main drive - until it pointed in the opposite direction. That would eliminate any weightlessness. If you stretched that manouver out over a long enough period of time, the passengers/crew would barely notice the change in direction. I once did the calculation, and discovered that, for a ship that continuously accellerates at 1g, it takes roughly 6 years (subjective) to get anywhere, regardless of how far away it is. It takes about 2.5 years to get to a relativistic speed, and, of course, 2.5 years to slow down again. The year in the middle is enough to travel an effectively infinite distance, since time is essentially stopped for you. In objective time (an oxymoron, but you know what I mean), you can approximate pretty well using newtownian mechanics. If you approximate 1g as 10m/s, and c as 4*10^8m/s, that means you spend 2*(4*10^7s)--otherwise known as about 1 and 1/4 years--to get to c. You get another 15 months decellerating, so that's a total of 2.5 years at 1/2c, and the rest of the time, obviously, at c. Convert all that to light-years, since that's how we generally think of interstellar distances, and it turns out it takes 2.5 years to go the first 1.25 light years, and 1-for-1 after that. So just take the distance in light years and add 15 months. Easy! Sadly, I don't think any of this applies to Firefly, because my understanding is all the places Serenity goes are all in the same star system. That means, even at 1g, Serenity never travels far enough to build up relativistic speeds, as far as we know. QBeam

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Thursday, July 21, 2005 7:30 AM

 SKYDANCE

 Quote:Originally posted by TheGreyJedi: The guns the alliance uses, to me at least, seem to be sonic based. Sound, no matter how focused, isn't going to do a whole lot to a heavy metal door with a solid lock. Not for a while at least. A human, however, with it's squishy fleshy bits is likely to catch the sonic wave like a sail and go flying back like a plastic bag in the breeze. Hmph. The key here is the wide dispersion of the energy. You can see from the distortion in the air that the energy expands in a cone, and strikes the target more or less evenly over an area about a foot in diameter. If you're tackling someone with 100 lbs of force, they'll fly backwards. 100 lbs applied to a steel door isn't going to make it budge (although it might rattle). You're wrong about "no matter how focussed," though. If you could focus sound well, and you had enough energy behind the blast, you could certainly damage a door. It's all about the amount of force being applied (actually, physicists calculate this type of interaction as an "impulse," not a force, but go ahead and think of it as force). This weapon is designed to stun people, not damage buildings, so the amount of energy delivered is relatively low. In other news ... don't try to overanalyze the physics of Firefly. *sigh* There's a lot of Hollywood Physics in the series. Did we establish already the extremely high amount of gravity present in space? It takes an awful lot of energy to accelerate out of the Earth's gravity well, to "escape velocity." It takes even more energy to reach "escape velocity" for our Sun, and tremendous amounts of energy to reach escape velocity for our galaxy. You're just being confused by the fact that gravity moves the ship the exact same way it moves you: you're both falling/orbitting at the same acceleration. You feel pushed when the ship's engines are running because the engines push the ship (changing its velocity), and then the ship has to push you to get you to match its velocity. If gravity is doing all the work, then it reaches through the walls of the ship to move you directly (and even through your body to move your liver directly), so there's no transfer of energy between you and the ship (or between your liver and the muscles in your body). I'm not a physicist, but I did get my bachelor's degree in physics. __________________________ "They weren't cows inside. They were waiting to be, but they forgot. Now they see the sky and they remember what they are."

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Thursday, July 21, 2005 7:43 AM

 QBEAM

 Quote:One of the best realistic SF solutions to both those problems is to have a ship accelerating at a constant 1G for half the trip, and then decellerate at 1G for the other half, giving the entire spaceship an Earthlike gravity, with Down being the direction the engines are pointed, (although they have a brief period of zero G and readjustment as up becomes down for the rest of the trip). This requires a lot of fuel, however. Yes--in fact, as someone else pointed out, if you assume rocketary propulsion (i.e. thrust based on expelling mass out the back), you can't carry enough feul to achieve 1g for years on end. Fortunately, nature has given a potential solution: pick up the feul on the way. Space isn't empty--there are stray hydrogen atoms floating around. The Bussard ram jet is a theoretical way to harness that feul. You create a huge magnetic field to scoop the hydrogen up, like a funnel, then concentrate them in a magnetic bottle at the rear of the ship to kick of a fussion reaction. The only trick is that you have to get the ship moving in the first place, so your hydrogen net can start scooping. I like to think this is how Serenity works. Remember how the ship starts out slowly, and then there's that big flash at the rear, and the ship suddenly gets a big burst of speed? To me, that looks like the ship starts off with some lower-power propulsion, then kicks on the Bussard field, and POW, you're off. Apparently, though, they don't have the technology to harness the fussion reaction very well, since, as we know, they need some other kind of fuel for the other ship functions. Apparently, that fuel runs whatever the start-up propulsion is, too. This all still makes a lot of sense to me, because running life support and such would be a tiny power drain, compared to interplanetary thrust at close to 1g. I think they need fuel mostly to start up and stop; during the long cruising periods, they're not using much.

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Thursday, July 21, 2005 7:58 AM

 GROUNDED

 Quote:Originally posted by QBeam: If you approximate 1g as 10m/s, and c as 4*10^8m/s Why would you approximate c to that? It's 3x10^8 m/s...

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Thursday, July 21, 2005 8:05 AM

 SKYDANCE

 Quote:Originally posted by zoid: Would I also be correct in stating that since everything is relative, as one approaches infinite mass while accelerating to c, every other bit of matter one might encounter (even massive particles) could be seen as acquiring infinite mass instead, from the viewpoint of a traveler who felt stationary on the ship? I don't think it works that way, no. Your observations are going to be royally screwed by the time dilation, anyway. You are 100% correct about not wanting to come into contact with anything, though. If you did encounter a pea-sized object, then one of two things would happen: either (1) your ship would transfer enough energy to the pea to make it match your velocity -- all in the course of a billionth of a second, or (2) part of your ship would occupy the same physical location as the pea. I'm thinking #2 isn't an option. You'd just end up with #1 -- a really, really huge transfer of energy. By way of reference, atomic weapons are a nearly-instantaneous "transfer of energy." And the closer you are to the speed of light, the more energy you need to transfer to that pea to make it match your velocity ... and the less time you have to do it in, from the pea's perspective. Quote:Again from Zoid: I'm also not keen on the names 'Shiva' and 'Nova' for an earth-based reactor... ROFL! Just remember: we (the USA) have detonated Fusion devices (for testing purposes). The fears of the atmosphere catching on fire are greatly exaggerated. You also might be interested in [url] http://news.uns.purdue.edu/UNS/html4ever/2005/050712.Xu.fusion.html __________________________ "They weren't cows inside. They were waiting to be, but they forgot. Now they see the sky and they remember what they are."

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Thursday, July 21, 2005 8:20 AM

 ZOID

 FourSkys: Thank you very much for contributing your 'pop-in' explanation. It is very useful for those who might not otherwise understand the distinction between the actual QM and the interpretive 'schools'. Since I don't want to make statements that others might misinterpret as a claim of expertise, I'll try to phrase the following 'outsider' observations in the form of questions, in order to keep myself out of jeopardy (pun intended). My understanding is that QM predicts the probabilities that an investigated particle will be found to possess certain properties (i.e., position or momentum, spin, et cetera). Correct thus far? QM then predicts the odds that the particle will be found in a specific configuration. (How'm I doing?) While QM doesn't tell you where each specific electron is going to strike a phosphor (in the classic two-slit example), the results of firing thousands of individual electrons results in a distribution that exactly matches the mathematical prediction. (Or am I misunderstanding or otherwise over/understating this point?) This predictive power makes QM the most successful theory ever devised by Man. (Everybody agrees on this point, so I'm not even going to make that a question.) The problem is that nobody can say for certain How quantum mechanics works. That's why they call it 'mechanics', right? It's like being in a stranger's kitchen with a recipe for chocolate cake. In the kitchen are bags marked 'A', 'B', 'C' and so on. The recipe says add 2 cups of 'A', 1/2 cup of 'B', etc. When you follow the recipe ('Do the math') you wind up with a perfect chocolate cake. But you have no idea where the individual bags come from, what processes were involved in manufacturing their contents, and there may be some questions about the accuracy of thinking of two different bags of 'A' as being identical. Corollary questions: Are all bags of 'A' really the same bag of 'A'? Is one bag of 'A' actually an infinite stream of identical bags of 'A'? But there is no denying that if you leave the extraneous questions out of it and simply follow the recipe, you will make a perfect cake. (NB: This has been an analogy. Analogies are simplified and imperfect similitudes of the actual process being indirectly examined.) As you said, the math is undeniably descriptive of a level of reality that is incredibly bizarre when compared to the 'macro' world of our existence (which corresponds more closely with Relativity), and I wouldn't be typing this on a computer were the predictive powers of QM 'untrue'. Einstein and others -- even practitioners of QM -- were unsettled (would you use that word?) by a theory that didn't include the 'How', and that included uncertainty as a cornerstone ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncertainty_principle , especially the section entitled "Interpretations"). Scientists are humans, too. This unsatisfied need to know the 'How' (please note I never said, 'why'), I believe, has led to the different interpretive groups, including the "Just do the math" school (Copenhagen, right?). Among the many schools/groups -- none of which denies the awesome predictive power of The Math -- there are those that possess a more than a passing resemblance to Eastern religions, in particular. Maybe it had something to do with the '60s, hmmm? More than the math, I'm fascinated by the picture of reality that QM paints and the human (scientists') reactions to that necessarily blurred picture. As you said, the math is cut and dried. There's no question about it. How the math works and the actual characteristics of reality that underlie the math are the unanswered -- and therefore compelling -- questions for me personally. Thanks for understanding and -- I'm begging you -- please correct anything I've said that is either incorrect or misleading, not only for myself but for others who might be following this with some interest (like TiPpY). You can even call me an idiotic poser if you'd like, so long as you enumerate specifically where I've gotten it wrong. I'm seeking deeper understanding and a greater depth of perspective, which can only be gotten from honest and unafraid discussion with others (or else a life in the sciences, and that boat has long since sailed for me). I don't mind being ridiculed for asking questions, as long as some information is transferred in the process... Respectfully, zoid P.S. Please note that I didn't find anything you said in your previous posts insulting. The things you said about my forcefulness in speech was not taken as hurtful. I recognize that about myself (and I'm not proud of it). I can't dance, either. I simply mean to say -- to anyone who might care to respond -- feel free to blast me, just give me specifics, so I and others can learn from your critical comments. P.P.S. Someone else want to tackle the reason why individual electrons fired through a two-slit screen build up a QM-predicted interference pattern? I've said enough crazy things before lunch today (obscure reference intended). For the readers: It has to do with Feynman's sum-over-histories. You're gonna love this. _________________________________________________ "Sure as I know anything, I know this: I aim to misbehave." -Capt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity, a.k.a. 'the BDM'

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Thursday, July 21, 2005 8:39 AM

 SKYDANCE

 Quote:Originally posted by zoid: ... ventured to comment that the differing viewpoints -- many of which have been duly pointed out by each author I have read -- as well as the fantastic basis of QM, reminded me of religion: 'Believing' in something totally unrelated to everyday experience, and which you have very little hope of ever actually observing (i.e, like 'God'), and then settling into 'interpretation groups' regarding the best guess of what is really going on at the most basic level (i.e., like differing sects of the Protestant faith). I think the problem is that we, looking from the inside, can understand how you, looking from the outside, came to the similarity. However, there is a distinct difference between Physics and Religion. If someone comes to us with an experiment which produces an unexpected result, we all scurry about like insects with the light turned on, and begin revising our theories to come up with something that explains the observed results. We also demand the ability to reproduce the experiment. If someone goes to the Pope and says, "God told me X," the Pope smiles at him and looks for someone who can help the poor deluded fool. Religion != Science. That you see a similarity is nice, but it's not appropriate. __________________________ "They weren't cows inside. They were waiting to be, but they forgot. Now they see the sky and they remember what they are."

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Thursday, July 21, 2005 9:12 AM

 ZOID

 Skydance: Okay. I don't want to belabor the 'science resembles religion' thing, since it's outlived any usefulness and since the respondents in this thread have made their viewpoints clear (i.e., I'm dead wrong). But... (*crap*) It's not historically accurate to say that religion hasn't altered its dogma to match experimental results. It was once canon that the Earth was the center of the Universe and that the Sun, planets and other celestial bodies orbited the Earth. Organized religion vehemently resisted the non-Earth centric paradigm (they burned Dominican friar and astronomer Giordano Bruno at the stake for declaring that there were an infinite number of Earth-like planets orbiting infinite Suns), but The Church eventually changed its 'theory' to match scientific evidence. And that's not the only example of such adaptation. Please note that you and none of your colleagues have been scourged by the Inquisition, other than yearly on or before April 15th... We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming. Respectfully, zoid P.S. I really am letting the 'science resembles religion' analogy die. Honestly. I was obviously way off base and unintentionally offended folks by even suggesting it. Next up: How politics are like team sports... _________________________________________________ "Sure as I know anything, I know this: I aim to misbehave." -Capt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity, a.k.a. 'the BDM'

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Thursday, July 21, 2005 10:16 AM

 DAIKATH

 ZOID: I have one more thing to add to the 'sciences as religion' debate. Yes, poeple who disagreed with the holy roman church were burned at the stake even though now some of those poeple turned out to be right. None of that has happened in the scientific community, but poeple are being shunned and looked down upon. If someone in the scientific community is openly religious he is often not taken seriously by other scientists. Although this is not equal to the burning at a stake, it is a modern way of weeding out the poeple who do not fit the standard beliefs. They may agree that each and everyone of their theories are just theories and could be proven wrong at any moment. Just so long as that improvement doesn't include a God. (My personal obversation of hearing that religion is bad because it was against the scientific community in medival times. Today you might say that those poeple are wrong and science is right but the Inquisition was convinced it was right too).

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Thursday, July 21, 2005 10:18 AM

 SKYDANCE

 Quote:Originally posted by zoid: Next up: How politics are like team sports... *laughs* I think that might be an appropriate followup .... I'm not sure I agree that the Earth-centric Universe was a matter of Faith, modified because of others coming forth with new information from God (or Angels, or Prophets). It certainly was a belief that was held by the Catholic community, and claims to the contrary were pretty harshly dealt with. Was it a matter of faith, though? I feel a better analogy would be claiming Jesus never performed any miracles -- and then producing a bible-type document which explained each of those events as a normal event (like, the water-to-wine thing was explained by one of the guests bringing a wagonload of wine as a wedding gift, unbeknownst to the host or to Jesus, and the servants passing it out to the guests). Peter, Luke, et. al. never got that part of the story, so they wrote it the way they had experienced it: with awe and reverance. Similar physics scenario: a particle physics researcher in India finds that using neutrinos to make observations allows her to measure both the location and momentum of a beta particle, at a level which exceeds Hiesenberg's Uncertainty Principle. Both her results and the experimental process are documented, and other physicists are able to reproduce her work. Religion is going to discard the gnostic bibles. Science is going to embrace the unexpected experimental results (after a period of healthy skepticism, and reproducing those results), and then race to explain them. These are very different reactions. The major difference, though, is that Religion is founded on faith. It is based totally on (1) things that happened when no one alive could observe them, and (2) how those things make you feel. Science is based completely on observation. If you ran an experiment, and got results that don't agree with theory, then you need to be able to reproduce that experiment over and over. If you can't do that (and no one else can), then the results don't count. We can believe that something happened, but if we can't reproduce the data you reported, then we can't be certain exactly what did happen. Maybe your test tubes were dirty. [url] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_Fusion#Pons_and_Fleischmann.27s_experiment] Philosophy & differences of opinion occur in Physics when interpreting the implications of experimental results, but the experiment itself determines what we believe in common. If someone has a radical theory, and they can produce an experiment that agrees with their theory but doesn't agree with the other guy ... well. That's why they give out Nobel prizes. Matters of Faith, on the other hand, are not subject to review and verification. By their very nature, they cannot be verified, only believed. __________________________ "They weren't cows inside. They were waiting to be, but they forgot. Now they see the sky and they remember what they are."

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Thursday, July 21, 2005 11:01 AM

 FOURSKYS

 Zoid, So what you said made sense, and, to the best of my knowledge, was correct. The Cake analogy fits, too, to some extent. Scientists for the most part don't know how QM works. "Spooky action at a distance" and the like. There are unresolved problems and things that have yet to have their "how" explained. Like how an electron really isn't anywhere until you look at it. It's entirely meaningless to us non-quantum mechanical beings. At this point, the only way to truely describe the "how" is to resort to math. But really, on a fundamental level, everything gets reduced to that at some point. For example: How does the earth move around the sun? Well, the sun warps the fabric of space-time around is according to its mass, and the earth follows the trajectory. How does the sun warp spacetime? It's a property of mass such that it does. But How? Good question. We can go into gravitons and things, but the questions is always answered with another how. Yay, don't you just love infinite loops? Quote:Originally posted by zoid: P.P.S. Someone else want to tackle the reason why individual electrons fired through a two-slit screen build up a QM-predicted interference pattern? I've said enough crazy things before lunch today (obscure reference intended). For the readers: It has to do with Feynman's sum-over-histories. You're gonna love this. Nah, I'll pass on that one :-)

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Thursday, July 21, 2005 4:03 PM

 QBEAM

 Quote:Why would you approximate c to that? It's 3x10^8 m/s... So true... many a slip, 'twixt the the mind and the lip, I suppose. To be more precise, it's 2.998, and I usually approximate that at 3.000. I'd recommend using that figure here, too...

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Thursday, July 21, 2005 4:33 PM

 QBEAM

 Quote:While QM doesn't tell you where each specific electron is going to strike a phosphor (in the classic two-slit example), the results of firing thousands of individual electrons results in a distribution that exactly matches the mathematical prediction. (Or am I misunderstanding or otherwise over/understating this point?) This predictive power makes QM the most successful theory ever devised by Man. (Everybody agrees on this point, so I'm not even going to make that a question.) ... As you said, the math is undeniably descriptive of a level of reality that is incredibly bizarre when compared to the 'macro' world of our existence (which corresponds more closely with Relativity), and I wouldn't be typing this on a computer were the predictive powers of QM 'untrue'. So far, so good. What you may not realize, though, is that Relativity is the second most successful theory in human history, judged by that same imperical standard. What's facinating about that fact is that, as far as we know so far, there is no way for both QM and Relativity to both be correct. Quote:Thanks for understanding and -- I'm begging you -- please correct anything I've said that is either incorrect or misleading, not only for myself but for others who might be following this with some interest (like TiPpY). You can even call me an idiotic poser if you'd like, so long as you enumerate specifically where I've gotten it wrong. I'm seeking deeper understanding and a greater depth of perspective, which can only be gotten from honest and unafraid discussion with others ... I certainly don't see anything wrong, as far as it goes. The odd thing is, when I learned this stuff in undergraduate school, the missing "how" did bug me. Somewhere along the line, I've discovered, it stopped. My new theory is that we really don't have as much of an emotional need for knowing "how" as we think we do. Rather, what we need is a sense of being right. The only reason we care about "hows" is because it helps us cope when we learn that what we thought was true is not. Whenever science presents us with an observed fact that we would not have anticipated, learning how that happened returns us to a sense of security, I think. Back in undergraduate school, I think I lost that need for "how" completely. I spent a lot of time explaining QM and Relativity both to my peers in other disciplins, and I got a lot of "how comes." Often, my answer was just "because that's how the universe is, as it turns out." I mean, once you learn that the value of pi is irrational because it was randomly determined during the big bang (and all randomly determined numbers are irrational, because irrational numbers are dense in the real number field), there's not much left that can't be satisfactorily answered that way. Sometimes it turns out that effects to have causes, and it's fun to investigate those cause-effect chains. But it's just the nature of logic that, if you follow the chain far enough, you eventually come to the end--the effect without a cause. The first time or two, that's unsettling, but you get used to it. P.S. You also need to keep an open mind. It's also the nature of science that, sometimes, everything you think you know turns out to be wrong. However successful QM and GR are, tomorrow they could still be proved totally wrong. P.P.S. My favorite recent example of the unexpected observed fact are the macroscopic quantum effects seen in the gravity wave studies. They've been measuring the momentum of some gravity wave detectors to such ludicrous levels of accuracy that their position has become uncertain, on a macroscopic scale. I first heard a talk about it at IU when I was in grad school, before they'd done it. It was a popular subject of speculation: what on earth would something like that look like, to the naked eye. I mean, measuring photons in electron cascade devices is a pretty concrete physical event, but let's face it, it still FEELS about the same as an experiment in a computer generated alternate reality. Its only when your native senses tell you something directly that it's really REAL, right? QM was about to go from mathematical model to REAL. And sure enough, it has. You can look at these things, and you can see the QM effects with your own eyes. What does it look like? It looks like there are two or three detectors in the chamber. There isn't--it's just the one, but it is, I guess, simultaneously existing in more than one location, or perhaps hopping back and forth between several locations.

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Thursday, July 21, 2005 6:52 PM

 ZOID

 To all: Thank you very much for providing your perspectives. Since the conversation seems to be getting more 'normalized' I'm tempted to just sit back and let y'all 'riff'. Please don't stop. I've got a blender full of margueritas and it's 'birthday week' at my house... To QBeam: Yeah, I was aware of the successes of Relativity. As tough as it might have been for some classical Newtonians to accept at the time, the theory has a certain, "Doh! How could we have not seen that?" quality to it. Very aesthetically pleasing and the fact that it may be summed up so simply (i.e., E=mc², or as originally written, "m = L/c²") adds to its beauty. Correct me if this is mistaken, but I've read that GR has become a model for physical laws, because of this attribute of simplicity. There is some expectation that the fundamental laws of the universe will ultimately be found to be simply elegant. The fact that the greatest minds of our and previous generations have been questing for TOEs and GUTs has not escaped my attention, either. The problem, as you stated, is that while QM and GR are remarkably successful, they are also mutually incompatible. I'm betting that neither framework is wrong, per se, but that both are subsets of a larger, as yet undiscovered framework, similar to the way that Newtonian mechanics is not wrong, it's just not as complete as Einsteinian Relativity. To clarify and avoid trouble: I've read that Newtonian physics is a functional subset of Relativity. The gambling man in me says that neither of the apparently incompatible theories of the very small and the very large is wrong, just that they are both part of something larger. The gambler also says y'all are going to find it, hopefully in my lifetime. I think that'll be a special day... But speaking of the incompatibility of QM and GR, here's a genuine question in my mind, the answer to which I haven't a clue: Has anyone got a firm idea or even an approximate guess as to when the changeover occurs, wherein QM effects stop being the rule and GR takes precedence? I reckon it's got to be larger than an atom (since you still get 'quantum leaps' in the electron shell) and yet smaller than the "Planck mass" (roughly put, about the mass of an amoeba or "some fleas" according to Wikipedia, which is definitely in the realm of the directly observable). So does anybody have information about the precise changeover point? Your 'P.P.S' only makes this question more beguiling, since you reported QM effects may -- under the right circumstances -- be writ large enough to be viewed with the naked eye. And you actually observed the superposition(?) of the detector yourself?! Could you take me to work with you someday? I'd give a lot to see that. Are there any write-ups on the phenomenon available on the web? When you say "gravity wave detectors" do you mean as in LIGO or GEO 600? Are the detectors themselves integral to the experiment or just handy objects near a laser interferometer? Is any of this work related to Raymond Chiao's proposed EM radiation-to-gravitational radiation conversion apparatus, or did that whole thing turn out to be snake oil? I have so many questions! Just give me an effective search term, if not an actual link... Adding your observation to the 'changeover point' question, has anybody begun thinking about what mechanism caused the quantum effect to be extended to a human scale? Is it simply because the detector was so precisely measured in one of two corresponding attributes, that the other (position, in this case) necessarily became more uncertain? What would happen if human observers were thus measured; would using conscious observers as the subjects of the precision measurement change the results in any way, and I wonder what they would see, should they begin to become 'fuzzy' in position like the detector? I hereby request more data... Respectfully, zoid P.S. What would happen if you put Schrödinger's cat inside the gravitational wave detector? _________________________________________________ "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." -Arthur C. Clarke

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Thursday, July 21, 2005 8:10 PM

 SIGMANUNKI

 @Zoid: Know what, I wrote this long elaborate post explaining, blah, blah, blah. But, it, I have no interest in trying to explain something that will be mis-interpreted... again. I really think that you think you know what I'm about (and are quite off the mark BTW) and read that into what I write instead of reading what I write (yes, I'm guilty of this from time to time as well). So, I'll just state it simply. If you are so inclined re-read my posts, you are definitly reading something that isn't there. I also must note that in the last thread you did (by implication) presume authority (and explicitly after that). Before that, we go along. This alone should tell you that we can get along and what pushes my buttons. Also, all my posts regarding your behaviour primarily reference that other thread. If you continue asking questions as you have here (minus the passive aggressive holeness), we'll get along fine. With the holeness, expect people (not just me) to behave offended/irritated/etc from time to time. Act as in the last thread, expect problems as in the last thread. ie To expect different results from the same behaviour is insane. That is all that I have to say about that. Hopefully it has been put to rest. Zoid wrote: """ Or how about one or two of those predicted but experimentally unobserved (as yet) particles? "Inquiring minds want to know". """ The colliders are being built as we speak that will help answer that (ie CERN and I think that Fermi Lab is as well.). At least, as far as I know they're still being built. Never know with the gov's today. Daikath wrote: """ If someone in the scientific community is openly religious he is often not taken seriously by other scientists. """ I don't know what you've heard but I've never heard anything of the sort; neither has the wife. Any examples? ---- "Canada being mad at you is like Mr. Rogers throwing a brick through your window." -Jon Stewart, The Daily Show

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Thursday, July 21, 2005 11:51 PM

 GROUNDED

 Quote:Originally posted by zoid: Very aesthetically pleasing and the fact that it may be summed up so simply (i.e., E=mc², or as originally written, "m = L/c²") adds to its beauty.. E=mc^2 is, in Einstein's words (man I hope this quote is right...) "the most important upshot of the special theory of relativity". The equation is not a 'summing up' of special rel.

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Friday, July 22, 2005 4:31 AM

 QBEAM

 Quote:Your 'P.P.S' only makes this question more beguiling, since you reported QM effects may -- under the right circumstances -- be writ large enough to be viewed with the naked eye. And you actually observed the superposition(?) of the detector yourself?! Could you take me to work with you someday? I'd give a lot to see that. Sorry, I don't work in that lab, either; my report is second-hand. Actually, I first heard this described in a talk by a panel that was on CSPAN, or CSPAN2, I don't remember which. I was rivetted, since, like I said, I'd heard that they'd expected to be able to observe macroscopic QM effects at the talk at IU. Quote:Adding your observation to the 'changeover point' question, has anybody begun thinking about what mechanism caused the quantum effect to be extended to a human scale? Is it simply because the detector was so precisely measured in one of two corresponding attributes, that the other (position, in this case) necessarily became more uncertain? What would happen if human observers were thus measured; would using conscious observers as the subjects of the precision measurement change the results in any way, and I wonder what they would see, should they begin to become 'fuzzy' in position like the detector? I hereby request more data... Yeah, it sounds to me like you're thinking of the "changeover point" incorrectly. It's not like there are two different physical realms, in which two different sets of laws apply. There's no arbitrary line dividing "large" and "small." Rather, I suggesting thinking of it as another example like the wave/particle duality of light. When you run certain kinds of tests, light acts like it's made up of particles. When you run other kinds of tests, it acts like it's waves. The truth is, neither is entirely correct--they're just both different aspects of light's true nature. Those tests are interesting because they appear to filter out one of those aspects, but it doesn't mean that other aspect doesn't still exist. The metaphore I use when I give talks to humanities-type groups is to consider your house. If you stand outside at the curb and look, you see one thing. If you go inside and look around, you see something that looks completely different. If you showed some person who'd never seen any kind of building before two photos, one from the curb, and one from sitting on your couch, it might be hard for him to concieve that he was seeing pictures of the same thing, right? But because you understand so much more about the true nature of your house, it makes sense to you--you're just seeing two different aspects of something that's really far more complex than either picture reveals. I expect that QM and GR are exactly like that. QM problems, like interferometry problems, are designed to observe one aspect of the behavior of mass and energy, and to filter out the other. And vice versa. Both are equally true at all times, and in all circumstances. Just like when you're standing at the curb, looking at your house, that other view from your couch is still there--you're just not seeing it, at that moment, because the limitations of the human mind restrict you to one perspective at a time.

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Friday, July 22, 2005 5:35 AM

 QBEAM

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Friday, July 22, 2005 6:46 AM

 FOURSKYS

 Quote:Originally posted by QBeam: So let me pull all this together in a thesis. I think Zoid has made a valid point, by identifying different factions of scientists. The nature of science appears to be such that we always have more questions than answers. And the idea that science is all about deductive reasoning is a fiction that results from focusing only on the part of science that gets published in the finished papers. The truth is, the most important part of what happens in science is what happens before the experiment ever gets run. Because there's never enough time or money to test every hypothesis, those scarce resources get allocated according to what the scientists collectively believe will be most fruitful--in other words, based on unscientific guesses. Finally, for reasons that are obvious, I expect, when scientists talk to each other, or to non-scientists about their community, they're usually talking about those non-scientific guesses, because they are emotionally invested in their particular favority guesses. After all, people don't waste time talking about things they don't care about. I disagree with a lot of your conclusions here. First, the things that I do agree with. Yes, scientific funding is very important (work can't continue without the money), and often times scientists will use the "popular" and "sexy" buzz words which makes things sound exciting. But just becuase they sell their work with them, doens't mean they dominate the scientific method that they'll be using. "Mention ozone and you'll get money." It's true, but its mostly jaded and a little misleading. It's not like their work has no effect on what they're selling, it just may not be "significant" in the vein that most people think. Yes, there's a significant bit of marketing going on, it stinks, but unfortunately, there's still a whole lot of politics involved. But, it's, in my opinion, "what happens before the experiments get run" is certainly not the most important part. What gets decided upon for future research projects really isn't based on "non-scientific guesses". Just the opposite. There's so much fighting over funding, you really can only get money to look at something that you're absolutely assured of seeing. In fact, most people end up doing a good deal of the work before they put in the grant and experiment proposals, just so they can show good cause that it's worth the investor's money. Additionally, while the actual money is handed out by people who know nothing about science, there are many many committees whose sole job it is to look at the scientific validity of their propositions. If they were based on "non-scientific guesses", they wouldn't be funded. (Insert quip/argument for/against string theory here). And sure, while scientists may be emotionally involved in their own hunches and beliefs about where science should go yet, if there was a clear and decisive evidence as to the next obvious option, the opposition wouldn't get the money. This has happened to people in the past. The other groups either adapt or fade away. You certainly have to pick a direction and run with it, and often times you really want yor theory to pan out. But doing this is really just putting all your eggs in one basket, and Darwin assured us that that's likely to kill off half the species...

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Friday, July 22, 2005 6:52 AM

 GROUNDED

 Quote:Originally posted by QBeam: Rather, I suggesting thinking of it as another example like the wave/particle duality of light. When you run certain kinds of tests, light acts like it's made up of particles. When you run other kinds of tests, it acts like it's waves. The truth is, neither is entirely correct--they're just both different aspects of light's true nature. It's not just 'like' the wave/particle duality of light, it IS wave/particle duality. Particles like electrons have associated wavelengths, just as photons have associated momenta. The 'changeover' (if you want to call it that) occurs when the particle in question is so massive that its associated wavelength is too small for us to perceive its wave-like properties.

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Friday, July 22, 2005 10:09 AM

 QBEAM

 Quote:But, it's, in my opinion, "what happens before the experiments get run" is certainly not the most important part. What gets decided upon for future research projects really isn't based on "non-scientific guesses". Just the opposite. There's so much fighting over funding, you really can only get money to look at something that you're absolutely assured of seeing. In fact, most people end up doing a good deal of the work before they put in the grant and experiment proposals, just so they can show good cause that it's worth the investor's money. Additionally, while the actual money is handed out by people who know nothing about science, there are many many committees whose sole job it is to look at the scientific validity of their propositions. If they were based on "non-scientific guesses", they wouldn't be funded. (Insert quip/argument for/against string theory here). I'm afraid I don't agree. Yes, much money gets cycled through scientific review committees. But I have no idea why you think this means that they won't fund research based on unscientific guesses. As I said, scientists often formulate their opinions based on unscientific guesses. Let me give you a concrete example, to illustrate my point. (No sense talking past each other.) Consider the research grants that were proposed for SIS/UBS in the mid 90s. SIS and UBS (and a few other material) are a natural tissue graft material that is derived from internal organs, usually pigs. In a nutshell, you get rid of the cellular parts, and keep the collagenous part in as close to its native state as possible. The original idea (in the late 80s) was to use it to make artificial blood vessels to replace blocked or damages ones. In the 90s, researchers at Purdue got the idea of using it as a wound dressing. Their preliminary results showed that it actually induced healing. But for years, scientific review boards refused funding, for the simple--and highly unscientific--reason that people who'd never tried it would not believe that it was possible. So there it is: funding decisions being made on purely unscientific guesswork. It's not even like they didn't have access to the preliminary data that showed it worked. They just chose to believe that the data was more likely faked or anomolous, rather than consider the possibility that you could heal a diabetic ulcer with pig guts. The ozone problem I described is another example, of course. The whole field of global climate change has degerated into pseudoscience, because of the huge emotional investment of just about everybody involved, on both sides.

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Friday, July 22, 2005 10:27 AM

 QBEAM

 Quote:It's not just 'like' the wave/particle duality of light, it IS wave/particle duality. Particles like electrons have associated wavelengths, just as photons have associated momenta. The 'changeover' (if you want to call it that) occurs when the particle in question is so massive that its associated wavelength is too small for us to perceive its wave-like properties. Ha! Good point. In fact, that's kinda what I'm saying. It's not too hard to get your mind around this peculiarity in the case of photons. Or maybe its just that we grow up being trained to understand and accept it. (How old were you the first time the wave/particle duality was explained to you?) The question is, will the rest of the universe turn out to be equally comprehensible? I expect that it will. (My completely unscientific opinion, based on preference for believing the universe is elegant.)

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Friday, July 22, 2005 10:35 AM

 GROUNDED

 Quote:Originally posted by QBeam: How old were you the first time the wave/particle duality was explained to you? 17 if I remember correctly. I was damn excited too, although I suspect I didn't quite grasp it at the time.

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Friday, July 22, 2005 10:50 AM

 QBEAM

 Quote:Quote: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Originally posted by QBeam: How old were you the first time the wave/particle duality was explained to you? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 17 if I remember correctly. I was damn excited too, although I suspect I didn't quite grasp it at the time. Really? That old? I think I first learned it in 4th grade. It's such an important part of what drove our 20th Century history, I thought they taught it to everyone around then, any more. Well, maybe my thesis is flawed...

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Friday, July 22, 2005 10:52 AM

 FOURSKYS

 Quote:Originally posted by QBeam: So there it is: funding decisions being made on purely unscientific guesswork. Ok, so here's my counter-example to your counter-example (using things which I am much more familiar with): LIGO, the American gravitational wave detector. This is an experiment that has cost millions (billions? I'm not sure of the numbers) of dollars, and took funding away from quite a few other research programs (which many people were unhappy about). Now, the only reason something like this could get funded is if there is very very solid evidence that something can be detected AND that it provides a significant advancement to the scientific community. If gravitational waves were not such an important facet to new fronteirs of physics, if there were already EXTREMELY strong indirect evidence for their existence ( http://nobelprize.org/physics/laureates/1993/presentation-speech.html), it never would have gotten funding. Second, space-based telescopes. In order to get funding to build things like the Chandra X-Ray telescope, you can't just "expect" to see something. There were decades of high-altitude ballon born tests to try to detect X-ray from space. The early missions were based mostly on hunches, but there was also reasonably scientific guesses behind them. It's not just an "I wonder if...", it's a "well, my calculations show the temperatures to be high enough, could that mean...?" And then, after decades of studies and proof that something might be seen, there is another decade of planning and plotting (possibly scheming) that goes into making sure the thing will be able to see what is expected. The budget's are small at first, a few peple with budgets to plan and determine the plausibility of the experiment, and then start to grow if it proves worthwhile. There really is no place for nonscientific guesswork. As to your example, if there was well documented, tested proof that this could work, I can't see there not being funding for it. Sometimes you just don't get lucky and there's not enough funding to go around. Politics gets in the way, funding troubles get in the way. If that's what you consider "nonscientific", then OK, but by "nonscientific" I generally think more along the lines of astrology or whiney teenagers...

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Friday, July 22, 2005 12:29 PM

 ZOID

 FourSkys and QBeam: (*zoid, who has been sweeping the hallway outside, hears a debate and pokes his head into the room, clears his throat*) 'Scuse me gents... From a standpoint of logical debate, FourSkys counter-example is not particularly applicable. QBeam gave examples of funding decisions being made on purely unscientific guesswork. He never said "all funding decisions...", he said "some". Therefore, counter-examples do not disprove his assertion. Analogy: QBeam has argued that some apples are green. FourSkys then produces a red apple in order to disprove QBeam's assertion. While it was never given that "most apples are red", the use of the term "some" indicates that green apples are a subset of all possible apples, which may in fact include a vast majority of red apples, and doesn't rule out the occasional yellow apple. So, if he had stated that all scientific funding was based on unscientific guesswork, then FourSkys counter-example would have been a valid disproof. As it stands, the only way to disprove QBeam's assertion is to prove he's lying/misrepresenting about his examples, analogously 'painting a red apple green'. I, as a taxpayer, would certainly hope that a significant fraction of NSF funding is going to projects that are based on 'good science'. (*zoid changes the liner in the wastebasket and then pushes his cart out the door*) v/r, -zed P.S. LIGO's price tag, according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LIGO is $365M. I read at a subsidiary link (I think it was BBC) that the team is requesting another$150M. More amazingly, they expect to be able to measure a GW-induced distortion equal to 1000th of the size of a proton... (If they can keep passing semis from jiggling the apparatus.) ___________________________________________ "The only real valuable thing is intuition." -Albert Einstein

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Friday, July 22, 2005 1:25 PM

 GROUNDED

 Quote:Originally posted by QBeam: Quote:Quote: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Originally posted by QBeam: How old were you the first time the wave/particle duality was explained to you? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 17 if I remember correctly. I was damn excited too, although I suspect I didn't quite grasp it at the time. Really? That old? I think I first learned it in 4th grade. It's such an important part of what drove our 20th Century history, I thought they taught it to everyone around then, any more. Well, maybe my thesis is flawed... Well I don't know what 4th grade equates to (I'm in Scotland) but our physics program (I had physics right through school for 6 years) advanced steadily through 'conventional' topics until the final two years when we started looking at duality and more interesting stuff. Personally I would have loved to have had that stuff earlier on, but the fact is that it's relevant only to the tiny number of students who will go on to study in more detail.

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Friday, July 22, 2005 3:37 PM

 ZOID

 Grounded wrote: Quote:...Well I don't know what 4th grade equates to (I'm in Scotland) but our physics program (I had physics right through school for 6 years) advanced steadily through 'conventional' topics until the final two years when we started looking at duality and more interesting stuff. Personally I would have loved to have had that stuff earlier on, but the fact is that it's relevant only to the tiny number of students who will go on to study in more detail. Born in the Summer of 1958, I was in the 4th grade at the age of nine. They were still using balloons and fruit to illustrate math problems. Then, in the following year, we learned the long division. If they'd tried to teach us wave/particle duality at that point, I'd've sh*t myself... QBeam's school must've been one of those in which they gather the cream of the scholastic crop and accelerate their learning. Kinda like The Academy, in Firefly. Can't stop the signal... v/r, -zed _________________________________________________ "Also? I can kill you with my brain." - QBeam River Tam

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Saturday, July 23, 2005 12:32 AM

 GROUNDED

 Quote:Originally posted by zoid: Born in the Summer of 1958, I was in the 4th grade at the age of nine. They were still using balloons and fruit to illustrate math problems. Then, in the following year, we learned the long division. If they'd tried to teach us wave/particle duality at that point, I'd've sh*t myself... QBeam's school must've been one of those in which they gather the cream of the scholastic crop and accelerate their learning. Kinda like The Academy, in Firefly. Can't stop the signal... v/r, -zed Nine? QBeam...you have to be kidding.

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Saturday, July 23, 2005 8:31 AM

 THATWEIRDGIRL

 4th grade sounds about right. We were taught the basic concept, we may not have understood it. Keep in mind that it's just an introduction. Kids that age don't fully grasp the concept yet, they're still trying to make it fit into their world of physics. Children's physics is based on their concrete observations. A ten-year-old is in the concrete operational stage of cognitive development. They are not typically able to think in the abstract. In addition, they haven't yet formed a solid basis in math and science to build a deeper understanding of wave/particle light. Just wanted you all to know I am still reading and learning from this thread. Please continue. If I can formulate a question, I will, but right now I'm barely keeping my head above water. www.thatweirdgirl.com --- "...turn right at the corner then skip two blocks...no, SKIP, the hopping-like thing kids do...Why? Why not?"

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Saturday, July 23, 2005 10:25 AM

 GROUNDED

 I'm still astounded that anyone would be taught this sort of stuff at age nine. In primary school (7 years of school before high school - I guess this would equate to junior high?) we did almost no physics that I can recall. I don't see how you can even touch on wpd without already having a solid basis in the subject.

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Saturday, July 23, 2005 3:16 PM

 BATMARLOWE

 I've just finished reading this thread from top to bottom; and never having had Physics at any level (unless they snuck some in when I wasn't looking) the only thing I am qualified to say is Zoid, Anne Francis played "Honey West", not "Kitty West". In spite of the fact that it hurts my brain, this thread has been fascinating. Keep it up.

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Saturday, July 23, 2005 5:02 PM

 SIGMANUNKI

 First, sorry for the long post. I've been busy and am catching up. @QBEAM: On your "thesis." Yes, science has more questions than answers and I don't really see that changing anytime soon. With every answer there always seems to be more than one question coming up with it. It does seem to be a never ending process. You state that the direction of science is based on unscientific guesses. This couldn't be more false. The scientific guesses are based on previous science and what direction that they seem to point us in. Of course there is some human factor in there, and people will investigate what they like. @FOURSKYS: You wrote: """Insert quip/argument for/against string theory here""" LOL, they sure are good at the politics aren't they. From the wife: One of the important emotions involved is ambition. If there are competing theories or just ideas on the market there will always be scientists pursuing them, b/c they might be the ones making a new discovery. That's a pretty good guarenttee that even weird ideas will be explored to some degree before being discarded. @QBEAM: You wrote: """ funding decisions being made on purely unscientific guesswork.""" You cannot say that science is based on unscientific principles based on what funding committees decisions are based on. If you would give an example of actual science that'd be helpful. @Zoid: You wrote: """ From a standpoint of logical debate, FourSkys counter-example is not particularly applicable. QBeam gave examples of funding decisions being made on purely unscientific guesswork. He never said "all funding decisions...", he said "some". Therefore, counter-examples do not disprove his assertion. """ You're right that one cannot make a counter-example to something that is just "some". I'm going to summerize what I think QBeams and FourSkys positions are: 1) QBeam: that science is based on unscientific principles and that unscientific principle can get funding. 2) FourSkys: that science is based on scientific principles and that most (all) funding goes to scientificly based work. I must say that QBeam and FourSkys are both right depending on what area they are talking about. If I remember correctly FourSkys is in Physics (Masters, right?) and QBeam has stated undergrade Physics and then goes onto use examples from medical related feilds, which leads me to think that he's in a medically related feild. So, I would imagine that this is where the confusion lies. In the hard sciences proposals really need to be justified before anything happens. Whereas in the soft sciences and others, less and less. \begin{wife and I} We think that it is necessary to make a distinction between the hard sciences and the soft sciences and then the others. Also, a distinction between theory and experimentation must be drawn. And there are big differences between fundamental and applied research. We would imagine that the further you get away from the hard sciences (and the more applied the research is) the more political and "hand-wavey" things get. \end{wife and I} So, let's summerize the conversation to get a better perspective. Hopefully, I won't screw this up. QBeam wrote "Because there's never enough time or money to test every hypothesis, those scarce resources get allocated according to what the scientists collectively believe will be most fruitful--in other words, based on unscientific guesses." Which FourSkys replied, " In fact, most people end up doing a good deal of the work before they put in the grant and experiment proposals, just so they can show good cause that it's worth the investor's money." ... "There's so much fighting over funding, you really can only get money to look at something that you're absolutely assured of seeing." To which QBeam said, "But I have no idea why you think this means that they won't fund research based on unscientific guesses." and gives an example of funding denied b/c of unscientific reasoning. So FourSkys countered with two examples of funding which took a lot of time before any real money was spent. So, QBeam said that all science is based on unscientific principles to which they get funding for it. To which FourSkys said no, most people do tonnes of work to justify there proposal before the grant gets sent off. He also notes funding problems in science and conjectures that unless you have solid scientific reasoning, no funding. Now QBeam gets back with non-understanding why FourSkys says that people can't get funding with research based on non-scientific guesses and further remarks that "scientist often formulate their opinions based on unscientific guesses." (NOTE: This is different to what QBeam said prior which is quoted above. ie diff between often and all) Then gives an example of funding decisions based on "purely unscientific guesswork." and FourSkys gets back with two examples of well planned and justified funding projects. So, there seems to be two arguments running parallel. I'll summerize and argue seperately so no confusion is introduced (at least that way ). First QBeam really seems to think that all science is based on unscientific principles whereas FourSkys (and me and my wife) disagree. Also, QBeam's examples don't prove this point. In fact this for/against has just been stated. I will conjecture that science is based on scientific principles and put forth how successful science is as evidence. If science was based on unscientific principles then we'd be wrong a lot more and waste a tonne more money. As a specific example, I can reference any part of QM. Since it is so counter intuitive, if we went with our gut (or guesses) we would've gotten nowhere. The second argument running is that funding is only for those which base there proposal on scientifically based ideas. QBeam has proven that scientific ideas can be denied funding for unscientific reasons, but has yet to prove that these (or any) ideas are unscientific themselves. In fact, his SIS/UBS example is yet another one that shows that people have to have a scientific basis to get funding (Quote QBeam "Their preliminary results showed that it actually induced healing."). FourSkys does bring up a good question as to what "unscientific" means or is defined as by QBeam. QBeam, please clarify. ---- "Canada being mad at you is like Mr. Rogers throwing a brick through your window." -Jon Stewart, The Daily Show

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Saturday, July 23, 2005 7:38 PM

 ZOID

 batmarlowe wrote: Quote:...Anne Francis played "Honey West", not "Kitty West"... Jeez, yer right! The only reason I remember that show at all is because Anne Francis was the first woman I ever loved. I couldn't have been more than 7 or 8 when it originally aired, but I'd sneak behind Dad's lounge chair to watch it. She made me feel all funny inside... Respectfully, zoid P.S. Looked it up: "Honey West" was on for one season, 1965, when I was 7. I don't know where I got 'Kitty West' from... I have my suspicions, but they're not fit for family entertainment... _________________________________________________ "Sure as I know anything, I know this: I aim to misbehave." -Capt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity, a.k.a. 'the BDM'

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Saturday, July 23, 2005 9:31 PM

 BATMARLOWE

 I was only 4 in '65 so I have no recollection of HONEY WEST in it's first run. But I did become aware of the show a few years later. I always liked the idea of a female private eye. And let's just say that Anne Francis is worthy of being your first. For me it was Jeannie and Samantha. And of course Emma Peel. Since I was 5 when BATMAN premiered it wasn't until re-runs when I was a bit older that I began to appreciate Julie Newmar as Catwoman. And did you see her in LI'L ABNER as Stupefyin' Jones? Whew! Good casting. But lest I completely hijack this thread I must quickly add that Jeannie and Samantha were Quantum Physicists, while Catwoman...pretty much an Einsteinian Relativist. I'll be quiet now.

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Saturday, July 23, 2005 11:19 PM

 ZOID

 It's 4:03 AM in my locality, so: "High Hopes", by Pink Floyd Beyond the horizon of the place we lived when we were young In a world of magnets and miracles Our thoughts strayed constantly and without boundary The ringing of the division bell had begun Along the Long Road and on down the Causeway Do they still meet there by the Cut There was a ragged band that followed in our footsteps Running before time took our dreams away Leaving the myriad small creatures trying to tie us to the ground To a life consumed by slow decay The grass was greener The light was brighter With friends surrounded The night of wonder Looking beyond the embers of bridges glowing behind us To a glimpse of how green it was on the other side Steps taken forwards but sleepwalking back again Dragged by the force of some inner tide At a higher altitude with flag unfurled We reached the dizzy heights of that dreamed of world Encumbered forever by desire and ambition There's a hunger still unsatisfied Our weary eyes still strain to the horizon Though down this road we've been so many times The grass was greener The light was brighter The taste was sweeter The nights of wonder With friends surrounded The dawn mist glowing The water flowing The endless river Forever and ever ________________________ This song is one of my favorites (especially the live version). It always fills me with a bittersweet melancholy, thinking of the price we pay for our technological society... Sleepily, zoid (ragged bandmember) _________________________________________________ "When I'm a good dog, they sometimes throw me a bone in." -"Nobody Home", The Wall, Pink Floyd

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Sunday, July 24, 2005 7:45 AM

 BATMARLOWE

 Oops there goes another rubber tree plant-- "High Hopes" written by Cahn and Van Heusen, sung by Frank Sinatra. Quoted with irony, Batmarlowe We now return you to our regularly scheduled discussion on physics.

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Monday, July 25, 2005 4:33 AM

 FOURSKYS

 Quote:Originally posted by SigmaNunki: \begin{wife and I} .... \end{wife and I} LOL! Have some experience with LaTeX, have we? (The typesetting language, not the polymer) Also, I think that was a very good summary, thanks SigmaNunki. I can't say that I have that much to add though, so I'll leave it at this for now... :-)

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Monday, July 25, 2005 5:27 AM

 QBEAM

 Quote:QBeam's school must've been one of those in which they gather the cream of the scholastic crop and accelerate their learning. Kinda like The Academy, in Firefly. Well, it wasn't officially. But it was an elementary school on a college campus, for the children of the professors and grad students. So there was probably a pretty powerful selection effect. So I guess I can't be too surprised if my experience wasn't completely typical. ThatWeirdGirl is right, though, that the basic principles aren't too much for 4th graders, at least in my experience. I wouldn't try to teach them how to solve for eigenvectors, obviously, but the general principles are doable. Much like we learned the basic principles of electrical circuits, but didn't solve RIC circuit problems. (I think we did R circuits...)

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Monday, July 25, 2005 5:39 AM

 QBEAM

 Quote:I'm still astounded that anyone would be taught this sort of stuff at age nine. In primary school (7 years of school before high school - I guess this would equate to junior high?) we did almost no physics that I can recall. I don't see how you can even touch on wpd without already having a solid basis in the subject. Yeah, 4th grade was the first year that experimental physics was one of my subjects in school. The subjects and experiments were pretty simple, obviously. With nothing but basic algebra, the number of problems you can solve is pretty limited. But you can do things like computing mass with an oscillating platform, and observing the difference between mixing and disolving by measuring changes in volumes. We built flashlights from scratch, too--including making the carbon battery. (Actually, I think making the battery was the official project--a bunch of us just went on to make them into flashlights on our own, to show that they worked right.) We didn't do any experiments in WPD, other than making a diffraction grating. But we did read about the electron scattering experiments that were some of the first proof of the atomic nature of matter, and the Michelson-Morley experiment. Like I said, the ideas don't seem very tough, even for a 9-year-old. I just think the average school system has standards that are way to low.

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Monday, July 25, 2005 5:46 AM

 QBEAM

 Quote:You state that the direction of science is based on unscientific guesses. This couldn't be more false. The scientific guesses are based on previous science and what direction that they seem to point us in. Of course there is some human factor in there, and people will investigate what they like. You cannot say that science is based on unscientific principles based on what funding committees decisions are based on. If you would give an example of actual science that'd be helpful. We must be talking past each other, because I think this is more than adequate proof of my thesis. All I'm saying is that, by definition, before we know something via the scientific method, we have to form opinions about it using our other faculties. A fortiori, the decisions we make about which hypotheses to test scientifically are unscientific. They're based on something in our emotional make up, and our personal expierences. For example, I know that physicists have an emotional attachment to the concept of elegance. (I do to! I'm not pointing fingers...) Theories that propose elegant solutions are presumed to be more likely to be correct. And yet, its doubtful that the concept of elegance could even be operationalized, much less tested scientifically. Quote:I'm going to summerize what I think QBeams and FourSkys positions are: 1) QBeam: that science is based on unscientific principles and that unscientific principle can get funding. 2) FourSkys: that science is based on scientific principles and that most (all) funding goes to scientificly based work. No, if I've given the impression that this is my thesis, then I've chosen my words poorly. As I hope the section above makes clear, my thesis is that it is completely impossible for us, as human beings, to do anything relying entirely on scientific knowledge--including the practice of science. Quote:Now QBeam gets back with non-understanding why FourSkys says that people can't get funding with research based on non-scientific guesses and further remarks that "scientist often formulate their opinions based on unscientific guesses." (NOTE: This is different to what QBeam said prior which is quoted above. ie diff between often and all) Then gives an example of funding decisions based on "purely unscientific guesswork." and FourSkys gets back with two examples of well planned and justified funding projects. Ah, I hope this hasn't been a source of confusion. My choice of words may have been sloppy, but the truth is there's no logical difference between the two statements, at least as I meant them. The reason is that something can't be "a little bit scientific," any more than one can be "a little pregnant." Either something satifies the conditions to qualify as scientific methodology, or it doesn't. As I've said, the overall process by which humans decide which hypotheses to test scientifically can't be scientific. (See Goedel's incompleteness theorum.) That's why the counter to the funding issue I raised, about people doing pilot studies, doesn't work. It's just begging the question, by moving the pre-scientific decision point farther forward (in those cases where those pilot studies in fact qualify as good science--they don't always, of course). Quote:I must say that QBeam and FourSkys are both right depending on what area they are talking about. If I remember correctly FourSkys is in Physics (Masters, right?) and QBeam has stated undergrade Physics and then goes onto use examples from medical related feilds, which leads me to think that he's in a medically related feild. An interesting deduction, but a mistaken one... Most of my degrees are in physics. Frankly, biology was my weakest area. My roomate on campus was a molecular biologist/geneticist, which is how I learned most of what I think I know about those fields.

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Monday, July 25, 2005 5:58 AM

 FOURSKYS

 Quote:Originally posted by QBeam: All I'm saying is that, by definition, before we know something via the scientific method, we have to form opinions about it using our other faculties. But what about this is unscientific? just because something has yet to be proven, doesn't mean that the hypothesis is unscientific. The development of the numerous hypotheses is based on purely scientific grounds (under normal circumstances). You make assumptions based on previous scientific evidence. There is a logical train of thought that leads you to new hypotheses. Yes, there are surely many hypotheses that can lead from a single experiment, and there are many different ones to investigate. The choice is "generally" made from a plausibility argument, (i.e., which hypothesis is more liekyl to prove true), but not necessarily. Sometimes you look at what you think would be more interesting, sometimes you look into what you think is more fun. Is this what you mean by unscientific? Because the hyptothesis is still completely scientifically sound. The decision on what to investigate needs to be made sure, and I'll admit, one doesn't always need to use the scientific method to chose the one to look at, but that doesn't make it unscientific in my opinion.

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